Tacoma is Washington state's third-largest city, the second largest in Puget Sound and is the county seat and cultural hub of Pierce County. Pierce County is a diverse region that stretches from the Puget Sound to majestic Mount Rainier which towers over Tacoma on clear days.  Situated on Commencement Bay, the city is home to the Port of Tacoma. Located 18 miles south of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and along Interstate 5, it is a mid-sized city with a urban core, a thriving port and waterfront community and many distinctive neighborhoods. It is near to two military installations, Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base.

Incorporated in 1875 and dubbed the "City of Destiny" due to it being on the western terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad and on a bustling port, Tacoma is 32 miles southwest of Seattle, 31 miles northeast of the state's capitol at Olympia, 58 miles northwest of Mount Rainier National Park and 36 miles southwest  of Bellevue. The population was estimated to be 202,700 in the 2006 census and is 82.6 square miles in area.

The city has -- in the past decade -- gone through a downtown revival and it has many distinctive neighborhoods and a museum district and theater district in the heart of downtown. The museum district features a 900' foot long pedestrian walkway which connects the Museum of Glass to the Washington State History Museum plaza. The Thea Foss Waterway is a waterfront community which provides an esplanade, parks, residential and office space.

With an electric light rail system (SoundTransit), Tacoma is also a very walkable city. It was named in the top 30 of the "Most Livable Communities." However it does have a gritty side with the state's worst crime statistics.


Seven highways end in or pass through Tacoma:

  • Interstate 5 - the major North-South highway links Tacoma to Portland and Seattle.
  • Interstate 705 - a spur of Interstate 5  and takes motorists to downtown Tacoma.
  • State Route 7 - beginning in Tacoma, this 55 mile highway travels southwest to Morton and is a route to Mount Rainier National Park.
  • SR 16 - a 27 mile highway from Tacoma to Gorst which is a town near Bremerton and the Kitsap Peninsula and across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
  • SR 163 - a short highway running from SR 16 to the Point Defiance-Tahlequah ferry.
  • SR 167 -- also known as the "Valley Freeway"  is a 28.6 mile long highway which connects I-5 in Tacoma with Interstate 405 in Renton.
  • SR 509 - a 35 mile highway  from Tacoma to Seattle.

The Tacoma Public School District provides five high schools, one alternative school and one school of the arts. These are Henry Foss High School with an international baccalaureate program, Lincoln High School, Mount Tahoma with a school-to-work program, Oakland Alternative High School, School of the Arts, Stadium High School in historic brick buildings, and Wilson High School.

Private high schools in the city are the Annie Wright School, a girls prep day and boarding school and Bellarmine Preparatory School, a Catholic high school.

Universities and colleges in the city include the University of Puget Sound, Tacoma Community College, Bates Technical College, The Evergreen State College Tacoma Campus, Northwest Baptist Seminary, Pacific Lutheran University in Parkland, Pierce College in nearby Lakewood and University of Washington Tacoma.

Major Employers

Major employers and/or employers with company headquarters in Tacoma include: